Biography of Jerry Falwell

President of Liberty University

Jerry Falwell

Jerry Falwell, Jr. became president of Liberty University in May 2007 just after the passing of his father, Liberty’s founder, Rev. Jerry Falwell. In the years since he accepted the position, Liberty has seen substantial growth in enrollment, financial resources, and capital improvements. 

Falwell was born on Father’s Day, June 17, 1962, in Lynchburg, Va. He attended Liberty Christian Academy (formerly known as Lynchburg Christian Academy) and Liberty University, graduating in 1984 with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and History. He obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and was licensed to practice law in 1987. 

Falwell married Becki Tilley of Chapel Hill, N.C., in 1987. They have three children — Jerry Falwell III (Trey), Charles Wesley, and Caroline Grace — and have lived on their farm in Bedford County, Va., since 1987. The president and Becki make themselves accessible to students and have worked to create a family atmosphere for students at Liberty.

Falwell represented local clients and also served as general counsel for Liberty and its related organizations from 1988-2007. During those years, Falwell also became a commercial real estate developer focusing on properties in the vicinity of Liberty University. His companies were highly successful in the recruitment of many national retail and restaurant chains to the area. 

Since Falwell became president of the university, enrollment has increased from 9,600 to more than 15,000 residential students and from 27,000 to over 94,000 online students. Liberty’s net assets increased from approximately $100 million in 2007 to over $1.8 billion in 2016 as a result of increased support from donors, responsible fiscal management, and unprecedented enrollment growth.  

Liberty is one of only about 70 private universities in the nation rated AA by Standard & Poor’s and Aa by Moody’s, yet has remained among the most affordable of all private universities and continues to award over $200 million of institutional aid to its students each year. The Chronicle of Higher Education even reported in 2015 that Liberty had become an unexpected model for the future of higher education.

Falwell has been instrumental in preparing Liberty’s athletic program (NCAA Division I since 1988) to join the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the NCAA, a dream that was realized in February 2017. Starting with the 2017-18 academic year, Liberty’s football program will begin the two-year FBS reclassification process.

In addition to enhancing Liberty’s academic, athletic and financial profiles, Falwell has played an active role in planning and construction. Liberty is presently in the midst of completing a nearly $1 billion campus reconstruction that includes numerous state-of-the-art academic, residential, and athletic facilities. 

His goal for the university is to fulfill the original vision to provide a world-class educational experience that will Train Champions for Christ who are fully equipped for successful careers in every profession.

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